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Letters of interest submitted to redevelop Bradenton’s failed grocery store site

Three letters of interest have submitted to redevelop the Bradenton property on the corner of 13th Avenue West and First Street after a years old grocery store proposal collapsed early this year. Bradenton Herald file photo
Three letters of interest have submitted to redevelop the Bradenton property on the corner of 13th Avenue West and First Street after a years old grocery store proposal collapsed early this year. Bradenton Herald file photo

Two Sarasota companies and a Bradenton agency have sent letters of intent to Bradenton’s Central Community Redevelopment Agency for developing property on the corner of 13th Avenue West and First Street.

Officials have discussed the future of the site, agreeing that a grocery store concept is ideal for the neighborhood, but they would not restrict developers from submitting ideas to redevelop the land.

All three letters do list a grocery store as part of a potential redevelopment concept. City council members, as the CRA board, are expected to discuss the next steps at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the second-floor conference room at Bradenton City Hall.

An earlier grocery store proposal collapsed in January when developer Wisconsin-based Endeavor Corp., which had held the rights since 2012, made one too many demands from the city for more money. The city, which had conceded several demands already, balked at the final demand and only recently obtained the property back from Endeavor.

Sarasota-based Beneficial Communities is one of three vying for the redevelopment opportunity. Beneficial is the same developer pursuing tax credits for the redevelopment of the old Manatee Inns site on 14th Street West as a mixed-use residential affordable housing complex.

According to Beneficial’s Don Braxton, affordable housing is the company’s expertise with 30,000 units across Florida and other areas of the country.

“We have developed a unique vision for the redevelopment of this site, which will meet the objectives of the CCRA and the city of Bradenton by providing affordable housing, a grocery store and mixed use opportunities for the residents of the city,” Braxton wrote in his submission.

Sarasota-based New Direction Community Development Corporation’s CEO and president Aphonso Davis said he also would include a grocery store in any future site plan proposal, but also doesn’t limit it there, calling it a mixed-use site.

“New Direction CDC and its partners and affiliates have the capabilities to develop such a site and will be a great value to the city of Bradenton,” Davis wrote. “Remember, we believe in putting the pieces together in our communities by building lives not just buildings, therefore fashioning holistic communities.”

The third party vying to negotiate with the city is Bradenton’s Suncoast Community Capital, which is a non-profit agency spawned a few years ago with the help of the CCRA.

Suncoast Executive Director Tim Dutton didn’t get into specifics of a future proposal, suggesting instead that a thorough review with citizens should be the first step. He, too, favors eliminating a known food desert in the city.

Dutton said some suggestions to likely come forward would include the viability of a small-scale food production network of backyard farms creating an opportunity for a coop-style neighborhood store owned by the residents.

“This property in the middle of a food desert is well poised to be a building block for several approaches to community change in the areas of the city’s CRAs,” wrote Dutton.

Dutton cited the importance of locally owned businesses in low-income neighborhoods. He specifically pointed to a 2013 Newspaper Publishers Association report conducted by Neilson that showed how little local dollars circulate in African American communities.

The report showed that $1 circulates 10 times in Jewish communities, six times in Asian communities, but does not circulate at all in black communities. Dutton said a dollar in black communities typically “stays for six hours.”

Dutton said Suncoast is already in negotiation with Neighborhood Lending Partners and other organizations to help make such a project happen.

If you go:

What: CRA board meeting

When: 9 a.m.

Where: Bradenton City Hall, second floor conference room above the auditorium unless determined to be in the city hall chambers.

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